High upon a hill at 400 8th Street and Logan Street in Denver, stands the Colorado Governor's Residence, also called "Colorado's Home." It was built as a private residence in 1908 by one of the state's leading pioneers, Walter Scott Cheesman. He rode an ox cart from Chicago to Denver in 1861, where he joined his brother in the drug store business. Cheesman became an enthusiastic and effective booster of his new city, helping bring railroad service to Denver, developing the town's fledgling real estate industry and helping the city to rise to local and regional prominence. When Mrs. Cheesman died in 1923 the house was sold to Claude K. Boettcher, a leading western businessman. The house was inherited by the Boettcher Foundation when Mrs. Boettcher died in 1958. The foundation offered the house to the State of Colorado as an Executive Residence. The building needed a great deal of work, and its fate remained uncertain for nine months in 1959 as three agencies of the State rejected the offer. On the last day of 1959, Governor Stephen McNichols accepted the building as a gift to the state.
The house has been available for use by Governor's since 1960, both as a home and for official Governor's functions. The present Governor, John Hickenlooper, and his First Lady, Helen Thorpe, chose not to live in the house during his term, as their young son did not want to leave his neighborhood friends, but the house is still used for Colorado governmental functions. The 24,000 square foot mansion has housed six governors since 1960 and a handful of royalty and world leaders, including Charles Lindbergh, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry Truman and Princess Anne.
There are free scheduled tours of the house available year round, but it is especially lovely to visit during the Christmas season. The photo above is a view looking at the front vestibule door from the main foyer.The broad, columned corridor features ornate 18th century French chandeliers and artwork from France, Italy and China line the walls,
The front entrance foyer is decorated with a wreath and Santa Claus figurine on one side and.....
....mini Christmas trees decorated with white snowflakes, glass icicles and white and gold Victorian style ornaments stand on top of a hand carved Italian baroque credenza dating from the 16th century, behind the trees hangs a 1740 Beauvais tapestry, one of several rare tapestries that decorate the mansion.
Every room on the first floor of the residence was decorated with a Christmas tree. The Drawing Room's tree had a Victorian theme, including Victorian era toys surrounding the base of the tree. The piano in the room is a Steinway.
The Drawing Room's mixture of European and Oriental motifs is carried throughout the mansion's public rooms, a reflection of the eclectic tastes of its private owners.
Of particular note in the Drawing Room is this magnificent Waterford Crystal Chandelier that once hung in the White House ballroom in 1876, when President Ulysses S. Grant presided over America's centennial celebration and which was the year Colorado was admitted into the Union as a state.
The beautiful library was remodeled in 1927 by the Boettcher family, with intricate cross-cut inlaid oak paneling covering the walls.
According to the Governor's residence web site: "A centerpiece of the Library, and of the mansion, is the Louis XIV French cylinder desk, made of rare and delicate tulip wood with massive ormolu mounts. Created by Andre Boule, the most celebrated of Louis XIV furniture makers and designers, it is said to be one of only two in existence. The Library also boasts four circa 1690 armchairs, one of Aubusson tapestry, and a glass display case that holds unique jade sculptures from the 16th and 17th centuries, a pair of four foot tall Chinese cloisonne urns, remarkable for their size and azure color and four Tang mortuary horses."
The beautiful custom made area rug in the library depicts Colorado wildflowers.
In the State Dining Room, the table and throne-like chairs are from Italy, hand carved from walnut. The massive table features lion and shield supports.
A close up of the table setting and centerpiece
Flanking the fireplace are antique French rococo style mirrors atop console tables.
Over the table hangs an 18th century French bronze and crystal chandelier, with fruit shaped pendants in amethyst.
The magnificent Palm Room and its two wings have floors made of white Colorado Yule marble, the same marble that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, DC is made from. Italian Carrara marble was used for statuary, the scrolled pedestal tables, and benches and urns.
In the wings of the Palm Room there are hand-crafted floor to ceiling leaded glass windows which bear the Boettcher family initials, and overlook the south lawn.
The room was very bright from the morning sun, so it was hard to photograph the Palm Room's Christmas tree, but if you look closely you can see it is decorated with Native American themed ornaments. On a clear day Pike's Peak, which 70 miles to the south, can be seen in the distance.
Colorado's First Lady Helen Thorpe wanted to include a multicultural theme to this years holiday decorations, so there were displays in the rooms and in the main corridor of artifacts significant to holiday and winter celebrations of the different ethnic groups that contributed to Colorado's heritage throughout its history. The holiday decorations are from Asian, African, European, Native American, Latin American and other cultures, and a complete list of the cultural heritages displayed, and their contributors, can be read on the Governor's web site.
The main corridor tree was decorated with a colorful Mexican ornaments, and across from the tree....
..... on this table.....
...was a beautiful folkloric diorama of Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem before the birth of Christ.
The Governor's residence family room was decorated with a Kwanzaa theme.
This was the family room's beautiful entertainment bar.
The family room also contains photographs of all of Colorado's past and present Governors, which can be seen on the left side of the photo collage above, and former and present First Ladies, which are on the right, and also portraits of the pre-statehood Territorial Governors, which are located in the middle.
The second and third floors of the residence are the private quarters of the first family. According to the Governor's residence web site: "The second floor contains the elegant Guest Suite that is a showpiece of the mansion's historic grandeur. After a 1987 remodeling, the three-room suite was outfitted with a set of unusual painted-finish Venetian furniture pieces that were in storage since the 1920's. These Venetian pieces include twin sleigh beds, armoire, desk and chandelier. This was the room known as 'Charlie's Room' during the Boettcher years, as Charles Lindbergh was a close friend of the Boettchers' son, and was such a frequent visitor."
I really enjoyed my visit and tour of this stately mansion!
The mansion's grounds are in keeping with the classical decor of the marble Palm Room. Architectural elements include a small columned stone garden temple with a wrought iron dome.
There is a wide Italianate balustrade around the upper terrace, and an alcove below with stone benches.
The residences' original carriage house has been renovated as an event space, and the week I visited Denver there was daily holiday entertainment being hosted in the carriage house.
I was fortunate that on the day of my visit there was a wonderful music program about the customs of a traditional Irish Christmas, along with hot apple cider being served as refreshment. It was presented by the Colorado Governor's Residence Preservation Fund (GRPF). The GRPF is a Colorado not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to preserve the Residence in perpetuity and to provide educational and cultural programs from the Residence that are statewide, inclusive, and nonpartisan.
If you visit Denver try to schedule a visit to tour the Colorado Governor's Residence, as I think you will find it as interesting and beautiful as I did!
I'm linking thos post to the following blog events: Outdoor Wednesday, Alphabe Thursday (the theme is anything holiday), Tablescape Thursday, Show and Tell Friday, and Pink Saturday. Thank you to all the blog hosts!